Self

I have no identity.
There’s mind and matter,
Or one makes the other
And there’s no causal interaction
Or distinction.
How can we connect?

I’m a Buddhist without reincarnation.
Trying to remove my face.
Discarding what represents me
What really hides me
Smoothing over the nuance

I have a series of realities lined up
And am choosing between hallucinations.
I want songs with consonance.

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Self

Your Favorite Blog Post

Or your most controversial idea.

“A man belongs to a necrophilia club that has devised a way to satisfy the desire to have sex with dead people. Each member donates his or her body to the club after death so that the other members can have sex with the corpse. The man has sex with a dead woman who gave her body to the club.

[. . .]

Even when they were told explicitly that the woman didn;t have any family members who might get upset if they found out what happened to her corpse, that the club isn’t interested in recruiting or harming living people, that neither the man nor any of the other clubmembers suffer any regrets or anguish about their sexuality, that the group’s activities are kept private and consensual, that the man used protection to prevent disease, and, per her instructions, that the club cremated the woman’s body after the man was done having sex with it, people still insisted that somehow or another, someone, somewhere, must be getting harmed.”

I’m interested in ideas that go against the grain a little. Usually the idea is one that takes an assumption we all have and examines it. Since we don’t analyze assumptions all that well, it’s easy to turn one on its head with a little bit of critical thinking. They are the type of conversations we have to reserve for close friends who will hear us out and give us the benefit of the doubt.

The excerpt above is from a book called Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering. And while the book doesn’t necessarily put forth any controversial ideas, it does challenge us to think about what we consider deviant sexual behavior. I really like these types of books. They take us out of our comfort zone and show us that there are people who live here and have to deal with our frequent judgments, overt or subtle.

But your post doesn’t have to be anything like that. I happen to really enjoy my post about good sadness. I spent a little time on it and have read a great deal on the subject. Being able to put together a semi-coherent summary of my views, that a lot of people happen to disagree with, was fun.

Your Favorite Blog Post

Questions to Make You Fall in Love!

I’m not really concerned with the legitimacy of the claim of these 36 questions, but there’s some old (and new?) research claiming they will bring you closer together. The media really focused on the love aspect of them. but the questions in themselves are interesting and I thought I’d go through a few at a time to get a little glimpse inside my own head. I did the first handful of questions with three friends and it was an amazing way to get to know them even better. I’ve known these people for up to 12 years and still found out a lot about how they think and feel about things I’ve never felt comfortable or had the opportunity or insight to ask. If you have a close friend you want to be closer to, I recommend having a chat with these questions. And have a laugh at the possibility of falling in love.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/open-gently/201310/36-questions-bring-you-closer-together

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

We took this to mean living person, and my answer is Stephen Fry. Unfortunately, many people I look up to are dead (Charles Darwin, Kurt Vonnegut), but Stephen Fry is a great option, too. While he’s not directly involved in the fields I’m most interested in, he has made documentaries on bipolar disorder and religion. He’s incredibly smart and, more importantly, has fascinating opinions on all sorts of things.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

The word ‘famous’ confuses this question. I think most people would instantly think about a celebrity (and I was talking to two people trying to break into acting). But I think of a famous scientist in the scientific community. Someone like Matt Ridley or Daniel Kahneman. I don’t want to be famous because I want the acclaim, but what the acclaim implies. It implies I did something worth noticing. I came up with an idea or a study that threw new light on a problem. That’s my hope.

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

I don’t talk on the phone often. I don’t like it. When I do, rehearsing depends on who I’m talking to. I talk to my parents and don’t worry about it. Some friends, I usually call with an intention (making plans, asking a question) so I rehearse a bit. But people don’t normally follow my script so it’s irrelevant. The reason I do it is because I don’t like bothering people or wasting their time.

4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?

This question is a little vague in that we couldn’t tell if it should be realistic, or hypereal. Or somewhere in between. Realistically, a perfect day would involve a short trip and spending the day with my good friends.
Letting my imagination go into possible futures, my perfect day would look a bit different, in scope mainly. I’d wake up in London, go see a football game with some friends, then fly to California (this is fantasy, remember), and go to Disneyland with those same friends. Eat at Club 33, because of course that’s possible. Maybe that night stop by the House of Blues in Downtown Disney to see Saves the Day and Cursive co-headline. Then spend the night in a nice room at the Grand Californian hotel staying up into the next day telling stories and laughing. Letting my imagination really run wild, it would be the release day of my book on happiness. That would essentially combine my favorite things. Soccer, friends, science, Disneyland, and music (not in that order). If I could squeeze a hike in there as well, that’d be awesome, but I’d be really pushing it for time and probably not be able to actually enjoy the moments. (According to a quick google search, the flight from London to California takes around 9 hours, and California is 8 hours behind.)

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

To myself? 5 minutes ago. To someone else? 7 minutes ago. I make up songs constantly. Sing basic information to my friends. Sing nicknames. It’s basically constant. If this question is referring to serenading someone, that is less common.

 

Okay, so I knocked out 5 questions. Maybe I’ll do a few more soon, or maybe not. Hopefully this was interesting to the people who actually made it this far. I really recommend taking the time. Either with friends or by yourself. The latter questions get pretty personal and make you closely examine your life.

Questions to Make You Fall in Love!

Life Events

This is a pretty huge life step, isn’t it? When you run through the classic structure of a human life, marriage is one of those major stops. Even if every other aspect of you life isn’t so typical, marriage is one that seems to pop up in most.

It is. I don’t know. I did always want this. I always thought about falling in love and getting married. There isn’t much else I’m sure of. My job, money, kids, I don’t know. I may not get many of those other things. I probably won’t go back to school, so I’ll never have a graduation. I may never have a proper career. Hopefully I’ll buy a house some day, but that’s not entirely clear at the moment. So this one is pretty massive. I want to savor every moment of it. Really appreciate what I have. I don’t care about traditions, but I’m really excited about all of this.

I suppose that’s how we should treat all of them. We never know how many other milestones we’ll hit, or get a chance to hit.

Most days have miniature equivalents. There is something special about things like this, though. Engagements. Marriage. Children. A house. They are synonymous with larger goals. Contentedness. Happiness. Security. The excitement in the typical seem to fall away as we get older and more cynical.

A dinner with friends is nice, but doesn’t offer that sense of continued safety.

It doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward. Becoming an adult or whatever you want to call it. Maybe not feeling as scared as we were that we’d end up homeless and alone. Marriage is putting that fear to bed for good… hopefully. One less thing to be uncertain about.

Yeah. We get tired of growing and changing. I can barely imagine being a teenager again and everything that comes with it is charged with manic energy. It’s exciting but it’s a recipe for mental illness. It’s so unstable. I imagine my thirties and it’s plodding along, somewhere in the middle of the road. Then we get a random kick like you are now.

Then why don’t you want to get married?

We don’t feel the need. I don’t want to go on about my views of marriage when you are about to get engaged.

She hasn’t said yes, yet.

But she will. And it’s awesome.

I get the difference between your opinions and mine. Your decisions won’t diminish how I feel about mine.

And how I feel about yours, as well. I couldn’t be happier for you.

Alright, so there are no worries about that. Why don’t you want to get married?

I agree with you about everything. Those steps feel like growing up, but I don’t think they are necessary. I think they are more representative, metaphorical. They are easier to track. Graduation feels important but it was the hours upon hours of work that led to it that holds the real meaning. Marriage is the same way. It’s a demarcation, but the work that goes into the relationship every day is what makes it worthwhile. What gives it meaning, for me. The marriage is yelling to everyone else and I’m pretty quiet. You will love your soon to be fiance whether she has a ring or not. Symbols serve a purpose, though. It represents commitment to some people.

So you can get out if you want.

It’s not an exit strategy thing. But if I did want to get out, I wouldn’t want to the difficulty of going through the steps of a divorce to be the reason I stay. I never get why people saw that part as romantic.

Me neither.

Marriage is saying, “This is how I will feel for the rest of my, or your, life.” I can’t say that about anything with any certainty, so I won’t pretend.

But I think I will feel this way about her for the rest of my life.

I believe you. Which is why I’m so excited about your marriage. I can assure you I haven’t been this happy when other people told me about their proposals.

Why do you believe me when you don’t believe in that certainty in yourself?

I believe what you say you feel. I can’t say it myself, so I can’t believe it. But I trust you. You’re my best friend for a reason.

Because I remind you so much of yourself.

Pretty much. But with more hope.

You pretend to be cynical, but you’re all love inside.

I hide my fears in feigned realism.

And sarcasm. You’d never get married?

I don’t feel the need. But maybe someday a woman I love and I will want to throw a big party.

 

 

Life Events

You

I wanted you in a fairly specific way, I’m afraid. I’d like not to have to make this confession, but I couldn’t help it. I instantly found you beautiful and lost hold of myself just as quickly. I put you in a box in my head. Your existence to me was limited by my limited thinking. I ignored all the ways you excelled to focus on what I wanted to see. At best, I acknowledged your greatness to enhance my own beliefs. I was actually preventing myself from seeing the extent of beauty that existed. I wanted only you and only in the way I imagined you to be. I couldn’t break out of my own mindset. I couldn’t remove how I felt to properly examine what was happening. Or see if I was making a mistake other than shrinking you.

I’d offer you an apology but I don’t know how to word it. I’m sorry I can’t control how I feel. I did my best to hide it, to keep it to myself, but emotions eventually bubble up to the surface and I had to admit it to someone. I thought you were the best candidate. I’m trying to be honest, but I’m forced to be honest about something I wish I didn’t think. I don’t want to judge instantly. I don’t want to put definition on how the world works. But I do it all the time and I did it to you.

Hopefully, I didn’t do any damage to you, but I know I did myself some. My worldview is tiny because of how quickly I try to define it.

You

Go Without

I’m conflicted on this issue because I feel more in control. I can’t tell if it’s an illusion or some limited form of growth. Am I confident that I know more about who I am? That’s assuming there is someone there to know. The only thing I may have figured out is that the question is pointless. It’s asking the wrong question. It’s searching for an impossible answer. But we need a destination, even if it’s abstract. The questions have to stop. They are just so damn frustrating and we need to start moving forward eventually. Though it opens our minds and expands our understanding, lateral motion only gets us so far. Even diagonal motion is slower unless the end point is undefined. The flow may pull us across the river but we end up downstream of our target. But we know our years are limited and we want to end up somewhere. So we put our heads down and kick. And say we figured it out to keep us from treading water indefinitely.

I can’t live the life of a painter and drummer and punk and activist and doctor without borders and lover and friend and veterinarian and physicist and geologist and neuroscientist and philosopher and psychologist and social worker and novelist and photographer and parent and millionaire philanthropist and footballer and runner and guitarist and singer and gamer and foster parent and etcetera.

Those options were available to me when I was a kid. But I had to pick at some point. Maybe not just one, but definitely not all of them. Simply making the decision to stick with one doesn’t make me any less interested in all the other options. I didn’t “figure out” what I want to do, I had to choose before I ended up permanently lost, homeless, or dead. Or worse yet, mediocre.

Go Without

Top 40 sucks and so do you!

I don’t understand why anyone bothers to listen to top 40/radio besides being lazy. I love a good pop song. At their best, they are fun and catchy and maybe prevent you from thinking about all the things you’d rather avoid. For the sake of argument, let’s erase all questions of taste right now because, I think, whatever type of music you like, there are independent bands/artists making that type of music. My question and concern is why people want to support massive companies.

I’m all for supporting people who deserve it. But I think there’s a reasonable limit. If you genuinely believe Taylor Swift and Beyonce need MORE millions of dollars then keep buying their music. (I can’t say with any certainty that I think ANY musician (or singers or sport stars, etc.) deserve millions and millions of dollars, but that’s a different argument.) Should musicians not need to supplement their income with second jobs? Yes. Should they be rewarded for their hard work and talent? Yes. But that argument is limited because it suggests that other people don’t work hard or deserve the same money. Let’s be honest, writing (though not many pop artists do this) and recording a song isn’t as hard as many other jobs. For instance, almost any manual labor job. But artists and entertainers should definitely live comfortably and you should support them if you feel they deserve it.

One of my biggest issues with buying a Beyonce-type album comes down to the amount of money that goes into every aspect of it. Recording an album shouldn’t be that expensive, but it is for pop stars because they need songwriters and producers. They also advertise the crap out of the record and produce music videos. Which means the simple record in your hand costs millions of dollars instead of a few thousand. If you buy a physical copy of an album, most of the money goes to people besides the band. (It’s even worse if you buy from iTunes.) This article reports that for every $1,000 made, the average musician earns around $23.00 when signed to a major label. The article lays out all the details that go into how little an artist actually makes from selling records on a major label and it’s absurd how it works. The article cites the example of 30 Seconds to Mars selling 2 million records and never seeing a dime from album sales.

So, why are we supporting this system? Why are we buying singles and albums to make the wallets of billion dollar companies fatter? Whether or not you think pop stars need more money, corporations definitely don’t. Your money could be better spent on artists who either self-release or are signed to independents. Some independent labels will split album sales 50/50 with musicians. But none of them are making that much anyway, so the band needs that money to survive and tour, while the label needs that money to produce more records, press more albums, sign more bands, etc. Not many people over at Topshelf Records are buying Ferraris and mansions. You can argue that need isn’t a good reason to buy a record. And that’s fair, but I have little doubt that you would be able to find music you love made by relatively indigent musicians. And when debating buying the next top 40 song on iTunes or going over to bandcamp to see if an indie artist has an album for sale that would be equally enjoyable (and usually cheaper), I hope you go for the people who would benefit a bit more from your money.

The truth is, I have a dog in this dog tug-of-war. (Is there a better saying that doesn’t involve dog fighting?). I played music most of my life and while I never put out music, I had tons of friends who did and do. These are people who have written, recorded, and toured for years, almost completely on their own money, while doing something else to support themselves. I’m not suggesting they are more deserving than your favorite pop star, but they at least deserve some sort of security.

You should listen to any popular music if you want, I love The Beatles more than anything musical in the world, but when you have limited purchasing ability, perhaps go with someone a little more needy. There are also other ways to support those you enjoy. Many bands make much more money from touring. If you do like a major label band, and I do as well, buying the record directly from them cuts some costs, and buying merch from them helps. And if you truly love a record, it doesn’t matter who recorded it or distributes it. All this becomes irrelevant. But when looking for something new or in regards to music you feel more indifferent about, there are other bands out there you might not have heard of yet. Just take a look.

It’s hard to talk about stuff like this without sounding like the asshole who wants to sap all the fun out of the world. I guess I should note the title of this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek in case anyone missed that. I tried to refrain from making judgments about taste, but even so, I probably come off as the curmudgeon who folds his arms and shakes his end whenever the radio comes on. I might be guilty of that, but I think it’s worth paying attention to what we support.

 

Here are a few songs I think are just as fun and catchy as the radio, though I might be off the mark.

My friend is half of this band. They make all kinds of different music including some pop. This is their most recent song with a video featuring a bunch of their friends (including a cameo from Karl from Workaholics (we went to high school with a few of them)).

I just heard this band a few weeks ago, and really dug their sound. I can see a lot of people liking them.

San Fermin is another band I can see catching on. In that, I mean they have a sound I think many people will enjoy, not that they will definitely be breaking into the mainstream soon. They got a little more poppy on this new song.

Top 40 sucks and so do you!